A week before Lunar New Year, the capital city – Hanoi’s Old Quarter emanates Tet ambience, its streets bustling with shoppers and markets teeming with flowers and red decor.
A Tet market, open only once a year for Lunar New Year, or Tet, the country’s biggest and most important holiday, runs from Hang Luoc, Hang Khoai, Hang Ruoi, Hang Ma streets to Phung Hung mural street, offering fresh flowers, ornamental plants and a slew of festive decorations.
Vietnamese have a long tradition of offering fresh flowers to deities and ancestors alongside holiday prayers for luck and peace.
Customers inspect fresh flowers in front of a shop on Hang Luoc Street, known as one of the oldest flower markets in Hanoi.
Nguyen Thi Tan (middle) from Bac Ninh Province, an hour’s drive from Hanoi, said every year she travels dozens of kilometers to the Hanoi’s Old Quarter to buy small peach branches and other Tet decorations for her house. Peach blossoms are an indispensable Tet decoration in northern Vietnam.
For the Year of the Rat, many items on Hang Ma Street, famous for selling toys, paper goods and in particular votive paper offerings, take inspiration from the zodiac animal.
The country will enjoy a seven-day Tet holiday staring January 23, two days before Lunar New Year.
Nga Tuyet, owner of a shop selling artificial firecrackers wrapped in red paper, said the item has become increasingly popular in recent years.
This year, handicraft items such as banh chung (square sticky rice cakes), Vietnamese pork sausage, coins, watermelons, firecrackers, and fake peach branches are widely sold.
Hang Ga and Hang Ma streets are dyed red. Many Vietnamese consider red a symbol of luck and prosperity and credit their business success and happiness to divine blessings. Many family maintain the custom of hanging red hand-made scrolls, lanterns or calligraphy in front of their homes.
The market will operate until Lunar New Year’s Eve, which falls on January 24 this year.
Shoppers hustle to purchase necessities before the streets fall silent.
Ngoc Thanh – VnExpress.net